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Showing all 42 reviews by Jonathan Mac

Review of: SMC Pentax-FA 50mm F1.7 by Jonathan Mac on Wed October 26, 2022 | Rating: 4 View more reviews 

Views: 255171
Reviews: 41
I bought this lens to use for shallow depth of field work and portraits but in the end I very, very rarely used it, because it's too long on APS-C and manual alternatives such as the M version are more pleasurable to use and just as good optically. There's absolutely nothing wrong with the image quality from this lens but it's too light and plasticky and the AF anywhere near to wide open was very erratic and so produced a lot of shots where focus was missed. What's the use in having a fast AF lens if the AF fails more often than not unless it's stopped down to f/4 or smaller? At the time of purchase the DAL 50/1.8 had not been released so prices were high on the used market. I later got the DAL and found the same problem, though maybe not quite so severe, with the AF and that despite being lighter it felt better made. So that lens is better than the FA unless you need the aperture ring to use it on film cameras. Still later I got the F version and found that to AF better while having better build quality than either of the other two and also having an aperture ring for use on film if needed (I have to admit though that the F version is ugly). So really there's no reason at all to get the FA: get the better quality F version for the same or less money or save a bit of money and get the lighter DAL version. Or just go fully manual and get the lovely M version which will give you more joy from your photography. A couple of sample images: IMGP1007a by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr IMG_6920a by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr

Review of: SMC Pentax-FA 43mm F1.9 Limited by Jonathan Mac on Fri September 30, 2022 | Rating: 6 View more reviews 

Views: 374181
Reviews: 99
I bought this lens to replace the DA 40mm Limited as I wanted an AF standard prime for my film cameras which would also work well on digital. I've shot quite a bit of film on it but not scanned any of the results yet, so at this time this review is based solely on it's performance on my K-3. I have the silver version because it's what was available used in my city. I would have much preferred black as the silver one looks ugly on my K-3. Every Pentax fan knows the Limited series, DA and FA, of lenses, and their legendary reputation, and as an owner of all the DA Limited lenses I hankered after the FAs as they are faster and film/FF compatible. The DA 40mm is a nice lens, very handy with great image quality, but only f/2.8, and if you want something faster in that focal length and with AF then this is your only option. I expected to be enthralled by the 43mm from the start, both in optical and build quality, but I have been disappointed by both. I would say the build quality is poorer than that of the DA Limited lenses, though that's possibly because of the aperture ring, which is light and a little loose when it should be firm. Perhaps the DA Limiteds have an advantage there in not having an aperture ring to let them down. Overall the 43mm feels too light, the metal too thin, and the tolerances too loose, leaving a feeling of fragility and sub-par assembly. Optically the 43mm is sharp in the very centre wide open, but bear in mind that's on APS-C, so on full-frame the sharp part of the image will be a very small area indeed. It needs to be stopped down to f/2.5 to reliably get images that are decently sharp when focused outside of dead centre, and that leaves it with a paltry 1/3 of a stop advantage over the DA 40mm. Apertures larger than that are useable but be prepared for a little glow and AF mis-focusing. Bokeh and rendering are OK, but nothing special. I don't value lenses purely on sharpness as some do, I love a lens that adds a je-ne-se-quoi to it's images (perhaps the Limited pixie-dust), and the 43mm disappoints here, where I expected it to excel. There's no pixie-dust here. For just 7mm difference in focal length it seems much more difficult to get subject isolation out of the 43mm when compared to a good 50mm lens. The much, much cheaper DAL 50mm f/1.8 produces better results in this regard. Minimum focusing distance is 45cm, which is typically what a 50mm lens has, but this is just 43mm, so magnification is lower and this results in being unable to get in as close as I would like. All-in-all, it's very much missing the pixie dust that the FA Limited series are reputed to have. That's not to say it's a poor performer, it isn't, but it's merely adequate where it should be excellent, and as such comes nowhere near to deserving it's reputation. The DA 40mm is smaller, performs at least as well (albeit slower) and is half the price. F and FA 50mm f/1.7 lenses are also better. If it weren't for the price I'd probably rate this as a seven or eight but the price can't be ignored - this is the most expensive Pentax lens I've owned and yet it's not in the top five (or probably ten) of performers. As such, it deserves nothing more than a lowly six at best. I have now sold the 43mm and I don't miss it at all. I've got a pair of F 50/1.7s, which cost me €70 each, and they perform as well or better than the 43mm and are better built, despite being plastic on the outside. Here's how it looks on my K-3: K-3 and FA 43mm Limited by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr Some sample images: Flowers by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr Pipo by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr Building in the snow by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr Mara by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr IMG_4209 by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr

Review of: Takumar-F 35-70mm F3.5-4.5 by Jonathan Mac on Fri May 13, 2022 | Rating: 5 View more reviews 

Views: 15623
Reviews: 3
I owned one of these for a while until I got the superior SMC version. I didn't use it much because it didn't usually produce very good photos and on APS-C the focal range is not that useful. I suspect my copy front or back focused a bit so I used live-view but even then the images tended to be dull, lacklustre. I'd recommend waiting a bit more or spending a bit more to get the SMC version, which I now own and, though I haven't used it much yet, is sharper with much better contrast. A couple of sample images. IMGP2103a by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr 2017-11-10_08-26-49 by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr

Review of: HD Pentax-DA 20-40mm F2.8-4 Limited DC WR by Jonathan Mac on Tue May 3, 2022 | Rating: 8 View more reviews 

Views: 254410
Reviews: 61
This lens is taking more time than usual for me to really reach a conclusion and that's because it's a bit of an oddball with many things being neither here nor there - the focal range is short but useful, the maximum aperture is OK but not great, the focus is quiet but slow and not always accurate (at least my copy). I have wanted this lens since it first came out as I have all the DA Limited primes and I love using them. A WR zoom that covers the most useful focal range with a decently fast max aperture and the feel and IQ of a Limited lens sounds great and I bought a used copy even though I already own the 16-85mm as a high quality WR option. Image quality Image quality is very good indeed. The lens is sharp wide open at all focal lengths, colour and contrast are typical DA Limited, flare is minimal and I haven't noticed any distortion. Though this lens isn't fast enough to be a real bokeh monster, the out-of-focus rendering is nice, especially wide open at 40mm. Focal length This is a short zoom that doesn't go as wide or long as even a kit lens and yet it covers focal lengths that are good for probably 90% of what I want to do. In practice I've found in the past that the DA 21mm is wide enough for most things so 20mm should be fine, and it is, but you'll probably want to have a wider option for when it's needed. Aperture f/2.8-4 is not particularly fast, especially at the long end and I can't help but feel that for the price and size it should really be a constant f/2.8 or even f/2.8-3.5. At 40mm and f/4 it's still possible to isolate close subjects and the other image quality factors still allow a nice 3D feel despite the modest aperture. Size, build and handling The build quality is typical of the DA Limiteds in that everything feels nice but it's also lightweight. The zoom ring is lovely and smooth. In fact it feels light enough to give the impression that a large proportion of it is empty space and the lens could probably be made more compact. The lens is pleasurable to use, more so than probably any other zoom I've tried, which is what I'd hoped for in a Limited. Focusing The focusing motor is nice and quiet but a little slow. With no fine-tuning my copy focuses perfectly at 20mm but is a bit off at 40mm and with this being a zoom, fine-tuning becomes a question of finding a setting that satisfies at both ends of the range, which is not easy. So far a change to -7 improves the results at 40mm while apparently leaving the 20mm untouched, which seems strange. I still need to play a little more with this though as it's not perfect at 40mm. Other people report that their copies are fine with no fine-tuning needed. Summary In summary, this is an excellent lens for walk-about use but many of it's limitations mean that there's almost always something better in terms of range or speed and at least equal in image quality. So what sets this lens apart? Why should you buy it? Well, I suppose it brings together a number of factors that you won't find elsewhere all together in a package that's this small and light. There's nothing that offers this image quality, range, speed, Limited build and pleasure of use all together in one package. However, as soon as you're willing to compromise on any one factor (size, weight, speed, IQ etc) there is immediately something that's better. That means that this lens is the best for what it is, but that niche is very narrow. In my case I'll keep it because there's no zoom this size and weight that I can enjoy using, and get such good results from, as much as a DA Limited. That makes it a great walk-around lens where there's no pressure to need anything wider, longer or faster, but if I do need to go outside of this lens's limitations then I'd take something else instead. In the end I sold my copy but I could be tempted to get another in the future if I can find one that focuses properly at both ends of the focal range. Baby feet by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr Madrid by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr Berries by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr Lost in the sand by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr Gijon by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr Posts and rope by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr Plastered by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr 2021-07-29_01-26-12 by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr

Review of: SMC Pentax-FA 28-70mm F4 AL by Jonathan Mac on Fri April 1, 2022 | Rating: 2 View more reviews 

Views: 270923
Reviews: 48
I bought this lens to use as a lightweight general purpose zoom to combine with a fast fifty for travelling when I take film gear as well as digital. Having read reviews that suggest it's a step up from a kit 28-80mm kit zoom I thought this would be a good option. I was wrong. I've tried a few 28-80ish film era kit zooms and in terms of image quality this is worse than all of them. All those kit zooms are at least capable of sharp results when stopped down to f/8 but this isn't. It starts off very poor at f/4 and improves to moderately poor at f/8. An absolutely useless lens, incapable of taking a sharp photo at any focal length or aperture setting.

Review of: SMC Pentax 28mm F2 by Jonathan Mac on Fri January 14, 2022 | Rating: 9 View more reviews 

Views: 151197
Reviews: 18
I was aware of the legendary status (and cost) of this lens and never thought that I'd ever own one, but I saw one pop up with a K2 and some other gear only a few miles away at a price around a quarter of what it usually goes for. I jumped on the opportunity and was absolutely thrilled to find that the lens was in pristine condition and worked flawlessly. The lens is huge compared to any other legacy 28mm lens I've used, even the two Vivitar 28mm f/2 lenses, and very heavy. This makes any setup, regardless of camera, quite front-heavy. The build is extremely solid and feels extremely dense and the focus ring is nice and smooth but with a little too much resistance (but still nice to use). Regarding image quality, this lens is great. Sharpness is extremely impressive wide open in the centre - so much so that I was astonished when I first saw it while pixel-peeping. Outside of the centre (bear in mind this is from APS-C use on a K-3 and a Fujifilm X-T20) it's not so great but still good, General rendering is excellent and images look like they were taken with a much more modern lens, with punchy colour and contrast and an overall modern rendering similar to that from a DA Limited. That's the first time I've ever seen that in a lens as old as the K series. Stopped down a little for landscapes etc the lens is extremely sharp. Overall on APS-C digital this lens is an extremely good manual fast normal prime. The size and weight are the biggest problems there, with it being much bigger and heavier than my other favourite manual prime around that focal length - the M 35mm f/2. Still, it's much sharper wide open so I can use it at f/2 where I'd use the M 35mm at f/2.8 and if I'm also using film then the K is a "proper" wide-angle rather than the "semi-wide" of the 35mm, so it can save me taking two lenses instead of one. Bokeh is above average for a 28mm lens but not fantastic if you were to compare it to a good fast fifty, but the sharpness and bokeh are plenty good enough to isolate a subject by shooting wide open (which I love to do). Despite being sharp, images are not clinical in appearance and often have that elusive "3D feel" that, for me, is the holy grail of lens performance. I'm extremely happy with the lens and I don't anticipate selling it any time. If I had paid full market price (around 600 USD / €) then I might think differently, but then for that price, despite my affinity for fine manual lenses, I'd probably have tried a used FA 31mm Limited. The lens misses out on a 10/10 because of the huge size and weight and the sharpness off-centre wide open, but it may be the best manual lens I've ever used. A size comparison with the two versions of the Vivitar 28mm f/2 lenses: IMG_4040 by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr A 100% crop from the centre of the frame with aperture fully open to show how sharp it is: Lúa (crop) by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr Some shots wide open: Pyjamas by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr Fields of balloons by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr Rake by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr On the beach below by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr Fallen blossom by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr And stopped down for landscapes: 2021-07-23_04-56-59 by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr 2021-07-23_04-50-53 by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr Craggy cliff by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr

Review of: SMC Pentax 28mm F3.5 by Jonathan Mac on Wed December 29, 2021 | Rating: 9 View more reviews 

Views: 267049
Reviews: 62
I've used this manual lens for some years and while it's not the fastest 28mm around, it's one of the very best in terms of image quality. The build is typical K series - very solid indeed with focus beautifully smooth and nice clicks to the aperture ring. It's a very big, solid lens considering that it's relatively slow at f/3.5. Handling is really wonderful. Image quality is fantastic - it's sharp wide open and the colour rendering and contrast are very good indeed. This lens is a lot better than the M version, which is much smaller and lighter (easier to find too) but, while sharp, has a very dull image rendering. It's also much better than all the other Pentax 28mm primes I've tried (A 28/2.8, M 28/2.8 (both versions)) bar it's faster sibling the K 28mm f/2. I'd certainly recommend this one over those A and M series ones - yes it's bigger, heavier and slower but the results and the pleasure in use make it a better lens to have. The size and weight limit the use I give this lens for travelling but apart from that the only real limitation is it's f/3.5 maximum aperture. It's difficult, but not impossible, to get shallow depth of field and it's not the best choice for low light, though it can be used wide open and you'll get sharp results. I really like using the lens and it produces great quality photos when used right, despite it's limitations. Some sample photos below. Pots by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr Balloon panorama K 28mm f3.5 43MP by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr 2020-03-28_05-04-18 by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr _IMG6475a by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr IMG_7720a by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr IMGP1875a by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr

Review of: SMC Pentax-FA 28-80mm F3.5-4.7 by Jonathan Mac on Tue February 16, 2021 | Rating: 5 View more reviews 

Views: 86486
Reviews: 15
I got this with a Z-1 I wanted and gave it a try just to see how it performed. Oh dear. The power zoom concept is not a good one, being very noisy (even more than AF) and imprecise, and adding weight to the lens. It's very much a gimmick and I'm glad it went away. Other than that this is a pretty typical kit zoom from film days, producing soft images unless very stopped down. Colours are nice and vibrant enough but other than that this is a lens which really doesn't merit ever being on a camera unless you want to challenge yourself to see what you can produce with a sub-par optic. Some sample images from my K-3. Blue sky, bare trees by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr Buds by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr Wall litter by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr

Review of: SMC Pentax-DA 50mm F1.8 by Jonathan Mac on Tue February 9, 2021 | Rating: 8 View more reviews 

Views: 404864
Reviews: 70
For a few years I had the other cheap plastic Pentax prime, the 35/2.4, and never took to it. Focus was totally unreliable and it wasn't sharp below f/2.8, negating it's advantages over the 35/2.8 Limited. The 50/1.8 though, is a different kettle of fish. The lens is light but build quality is decent enough and it feels good to use. Autofocus is very fast but, at least on the K-3, is not too reliable at apertures wider than f/2.8, leading to missed focus on a lot of shots. When focus is right, the lens is pretty sharp even wide open and improves progressively to f/2.8 where it's extremely sharp and good for portraits. Beyond that I really haven't tested critically but it's very sharp. Bokeh is good enough but not the smoothest available. Image quality overall is very nice. For portraits or other subject-isolation shots f/2.8 provides excellent sharpness and a decently de-focused background. If you have time to take several shots and ensure good focus then wider apertures will isolate more, though sharpness will decrease. Colours and rendering are nice and the lens is pretty good at giving a 3D rendering to images. Wide open, if you can get accurate focus, contrast is low but sharpness is sufficient though not great, but it's a good look for some types of image. Colours are vibrant without being cartoonish and contrast is very good. The lens looks good on the camera and feels good to use, despite it's low weight. The front element is significantly well recessed for a hood to be unnecessary. This is a fun little lens to use and I would recommend it as it can do a lot for the money. If you're considering adding this as a first prime in addition to the 18-55mm kit lens then this 50mm will give results that are far-and-away better at the focal length while letting in a lot more light. I also have the FA 43mm Limited and the big differences are build quality, the 43mm is a bit sharper at apertures below f/2.8, and the 50/1.8 has better 3D and overall rendering. Yes, the little plastic 50/1.8 is better than the FA Limited. I've used this on film but haven't scanned anything yet so can't comment on it's performance, but it is nice to use on a Z1 or SFXn. Some sample images: On the roof by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr Fujifilm 'industrial' colour negative 400 by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr Moo by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr Colours of solidarity by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr Wall boot by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr Lashes by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr

Review of: SMC Pentax-M 120mm F2.8 by Jonathan Mac on Tue September 1, 2020 | Rating: 8 View more reviews 

Views: 73219
Reviews: 11
I have owned this lens for a few years and am adding a review as there aren't many and I feel that this lens is under-rated, though I'll admit to not knowing it's ins and outs as well as I do with many of my other lenses. I bought this lens mainly to use as a mid-telephoto on my APS-C DSLRs for travel. I had previously used the M 135/3.5 for that purpose but it was a bit too long and needed to be stopped down a couple of clicks to get decent sharpness. The DA 55-300 is too big and heavy and the DA 50-200 is just not good enough optically, especially with regard to sharpness, and is too slow. In it's role as travel telephoto the lens has been with me to Japan, Italy and to the Spanish coast and has performed well. The focal length on APS-C is ideal, allowing reach but not to the extent that I frequently find I can't fit the whole subject in the frame. Sharpness wide open is acceptable even on the 24MP K-3 sensor and colour and contrast are good, though contrast could be a little better. Stopped down to f/4 and beyond I have absolutely no complaints about the sharpness. The build quality is typical of the M series: solid and compact with smooth focusing and a nice click to the aperture ring. The little pull-out hood, while very short, is handy to have. Overall I definitely prefer the results from this compared to the cheaper consumer zooms and the extra speed is very welcome too for both isolating subjects and getting faster shutter speeds - I prefer speed and IQ over the the flexibility of a zoom. There is a bit of green fringing wide open in high-contrast parts of the image. As a telephoto lens at a slightly unusual focal length this lens gets compared a lot to the M 85/2, 100/2.8 and 135/3.5. Compared to them it's better than the 100 and 135 (sharper, better contrast) but not the 85mm, which is close to spectacular, but significantly shorter in focal length. It's also rarer than those other lenses, so it might take some time to find one. I would recommend this lens to anyone looking for a small, fast prime in the focal length. It's very competent without being outstanding. Some samples below. IMGP8683a by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr Florence by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr Trevi by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr ITLY3741a by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr 2020-03-28_04-51-40 by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr Watching and waiting by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr Japan by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr

Review of: SMC Pentax-M 100mm F2.8 by Jonathan Mac on Tue July 21, 2020 | Rating: 8 View more reviews 

Views: 253562
Reviews: 56
I bought this in lieu of a faster 85mm lens, though not too long after I got the M 85mm f/2 and then the 100mm didn't get much use as the 85mm is a really superb lens. The lens is very well built but not too heavy, exactly what you would expect of an M. Focusing is very smooth and the aperture ring clicks nicely. The aperture goes straight from f/2.8 to f/4, a whole stop, one of the little annoyances common with older lenses. Wide open this lens is just sharp enough to use on digital. At f/4 it's considerably better and it improves as expected after that. The biggest problem with this lens is that images from it tend to be a bit low contrast and lacking in punch, though I feel that this contributes a bit to a subtlety of rendering that you don't often get with newer optics. Contrast can be increased in post processing but it's not the same as getting contrastier results straight away. Compared to it's nearest neighbours in the M line, the 85mm f/2 is superior in every way except for the blue fringing it produces, and the 120mm f/2.8 is just superior in every way, though it's a different focal length so may not be suitable for the same photos. Compared to the Takumar 105mm f/2.8 the M is much sharper at wider apertures, though the Takumar is really, really silky smooth to operate (at least my copy is) so it's a pleasure to use. I also have a Sigma 105mm f/2.8 macro and that's optically far better than the M - sharper and with better contrast, rendering and bokeh. The strength of this lens lies in the aforementioned subtlety of rendering and the soft colours that it brings. If you're looking for a manual lens in this focal length then this one is adequate but there are slightly better options if you don't need it to be exactly 100mm and you want a modern (bright and contrasty) look. If you like a more "vintage" rendering then this might be just the lens for you. Some sample images: Waiting by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr IMGP6349a by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr Segovia by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr IMGP1039a by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr IMGP3924a by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr

Review of: SMC Pentax-F 70-210mm F4-5.6 by Jonathan Mac on Sun April 12, 2020 | Rating: 2 View more reviews 

Views: 261596
Reviews: 55
I bought this lens in order to have a compact telephoto zoom that I could use on both film and digital, especially for travel. The first problem is that this lens is too heavy to travel with. The second is that image quality is poor, though I suspect that's largely because the autofocus is very hit-&-miss, with a considerable leaning towards "miss". That second problem would be enough to get rid of it even if every other aspect of the lens were perfect, but they're not. Aside from those two issues the lens has very noisy auto-focus, which from what I gather is quite common on F series lenses, and it has looks that only a mother could love. I always post reviews of lenses with sample pictures but not this time - I don't have a single one that was good enough to merit uploading anywhere.

Review of: HD Pentax-FA 35mm F2 by Jonathan Mac on Mon January 20, 2020 | Rating: 8 View more reviews 

Views: 42180
Reviews: 8
Revised 05/06/2020 to add more detail and more varied sample photos. I will undoubtedly re-visit this review once I have had more time with this lens but I wanted to add something as there's only one other review at present. I just got this the other day, having gotten a good deal on cyber Monday and have had some time with it. It comes with a protective pouch, a well-made hood and proper front and rear caps (not the cheaper ones that the DAL lenses come with). It feels reasonably solid, more so than the FA 50mm f/1.7, the only other FA lens I've owned. The manual focus ring is nice, though a little narrow, and is dampened better than most AF lenses are. The finish is good overall but I strongly suspect the painted-on text on the sides of the barrel will not take long to start disappearing. AF performance is good, nice and fast and generally very accurate, though of course it's screw-drive so makes some noise. Image quality is decent but not perfect. It's pretty sharp wide open, certainly usable, though bokeh can be a bit nervous and I've noticed some mild green fringing in some out-of-focus areas, but it doesn't bother me. I haven't yet shot anything stopped down further than f/4, though I can say at f/4 is extremely sharp. While sharp enough wide open it's noticeably better at f/2.2 so I use it mostly at that aperture or f/2.5, settings where it's plenty sharp and still has a DoF and low light advantage over my 35mm DA Limited. It certainly won't be replacing my 35mm Limited but it will replace the DAL 35mm f/2.4. I'm a fan of standard primes (50mm-ish equivalents) and as they go this is pretty good. For the price I can't really ask for more but if I had to list the most obvious points for improvement they'd be: WR, built-in focus motor, f/1.4, all of which would change it into another lens entirely. Of the three I mention the Limited is certainly the best overall but there's no getting away from the fact that this lens is a stop faster and focuses quicker. I've used it on a couple of film cameras (mostly a Z-1) where it handles nicely but don't yet have developed and scanned results to post. Overall, yes it's an old design that's been re-vamped cosmetically, but for the price (it's quite frequently available with a discount) it's hard to ask for more - small, sharp, quick AF and decent rendering. I'm sure there'll be a DFA* WR DC 35mm f/1.4 at some point, but it'll undoubtedly cost at least three times what this does. Here's a size comparison with the 35/2.4: 2020-01-19_07-20-22 by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr Some sample photos are below, with a 100% crop of the first one provided to show wide-open sharpness at the point of focus. Unless otherwise stated these are wide open. 2020-01-17_10-13-04 by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr ScreenHunter 4747 by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr 2020-01-17_10-13-27 by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr Tyres by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr X-T20 by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr f/4 Street by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr f/2.8 Made for walking by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr f/4 In the park by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr f/2.2 City blossom by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr

Review of: HD Pentax-DA 16-85mm F3.5-5.6 ED DC WR by Jonathan Mac on Tue November 6, 2018 | Rating: 8 View more reviews 

Views: 269669
Reviews: 40
I wanted a weather resistant lens better than the 18-55mm kit for a long time and there were four options: (1) the DA* 16-50mm, (2) the DA 18-135mm, (3) the DA 20-40mm limited or (4) the DA 16-85mm. The first was a definite 'no' due to the SDM motor failure, cost and reputed poor IQ, and the limited, though it appeals to me a lot, is also expensive and very rare on the used market, so it came down to the two slower options. From reading reviews it seems that the 16-85mm is optically superior to the 18-135mm so if you value IQ over range (I do) then the 16-85mm is the better bet, though it's more expensive. I bought a very lightly used copy for €350 because a new copy was out of the question - far too expensive. It was great to finally have a Pentax-branded lens with an in-lens focus motor, having bought a Sigma 17-50mm f/2.8 not long before which was my first lens for Pentax with a focus motor and spoiled me somewhat as almost all my AF lenses are screwdrive. Handling is great and the lens is solid enough without being heavy. Compared to the 18-55mm WR kit lens, the 16-85mm is much better in terms of IQ - sharpness, contrast, colour - and this was mainly what I'd been looking for in this lens, to get better results in adverse conditions. The additional range at both end is also very welcome and useful. I really, really wish I'd bought this a year earlier as I'd had several trips where WR was essential and I had to rely just on the kit lens. The lens is sharp across most of the frame wide open, with some softness at the borders especially at the wide end, but nothing too bad. Stop down and this is reduced to being virtually unnoticeable. Colour, contrast, flare resistance are all great and exposure seems much more accurate than with many other lenses. To sum-up: the image quality is superb in all aspects. As the lens is slow it's not ideal for isolating a subject and blurring background and/or foreground, but it can be done in the right conditions. On the negative side the only major problem I've had with the lens is an inability to focus sometimes. This happens primarily at the wide end (surprisingly, as this is where it lets in most light) - the image seems to jerk in the viewfinder and when it finally indicates a focus lock it's often mis-focsed, sometimes so much so that it's visible in the viewfinder of my K-3. This even happens in very good light and the only solution is to use live-view focusing. It's an annoying tendency which spoiled some earlier photos until I got into the habit of performing a quick focus check on the rear screen after each shot. At the long end this never happens, though the lens may struggle to focus as there's less light getting in at f/5.6 (but this is normal). The image movement in the viewfinder when it's trying to focus is not limited to my copy - several users have found the same behaviour in their copies and have discussed it in the forums. As a minor complaint, the lens loses sharpness when focusing very close. The only other negative aspect is the price. This lens, especially when bought new, is far too expensive for a slow zoom, even if it is sharp wide open. I can't help but feel that it should cost at least €100 less (new) or the aperture should be something more respectable such as 3.5-4.5. Due to these negative aspects of the lens, which are considerable, I can't give the lens better than 8/10 overall, though if I were to judge it purely on the image quality without taking into account the negative aspects, it'd be a 9 or 9.5/10. The lens makes a very good walk-around for use in good light, especially when conditions may be adverse, but it's no substitute for a 17-50mm f/2.8 or an f/2.8 or faster prime, for giving flexibility in varied light conditions and the ability to isolate a subject. Some sample pics: Asturias by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr This one's a stitched panorama: Panorama 6a by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr Waves by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr Llanes by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr Bilbao by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr Bilbao by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr IMG_6880a by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr IMG_7522a by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr Night lights by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr Copenhagen by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr Lone yellow jacket by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr

Review of: SMC Pentax-A 28mm F2.8 by Jonathan Mac on Mon April 2, 2018 | Rating: 8 View more reviews 

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Reviews: 63
I got this lens as part of a bundle that I bought mostly for the A 50mm f/2.8 macro and didn't expect much of it, as I've read that the M series 28mm f/2.8 mark II has the same optics and I was never really impressed with that lens, despite reviews. However, I gave it a chance and have been pleasantly surprised by the photos it's capable of producing. I like lenses that are f/2.8 max aperture to be sharp at that setting as it's not that fast in the scheme of things, and that's really the only major disappointing aspect of this lens. Wide open it's pretty soft so I never use it there. However, stop down just one to f/4 and it's very sharp indeed, so I regard it as an f/4 lens and use it as such. Ignoring the wide open softness this lens has superb IQ characterised by great sharpness and a very modern rendering, by which I mean very strong contrast and bold, saturated colours, and produces results which look like those from the best modern glass (such as DA limiteds). Bokeh is quite poor, but 28mm f/2.8 lenses usually are. The lens is well constructed (much better than the more common A 50mm f/1.7) with smooth aperture and focus rings and is pleasant to use. In the A setting it tends to over-expose (by about 2/3 of a stop) and I suspect it's doing so also on the film cameras I've used it with (mainly an MX). Easy to compensate for once you're aware of it. This is very good lens which is handy to have around, especially when travelling as it makes a good small, normal-ish prime on an APS-C DSLR and a good wide-angle on film, and I've had it with for my last couple of major trips. It's let down by it's performance wide open and little else. Some sample images. Florence by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr IMGP9580a by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr IMGP3737a by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr IMGP0270a by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr Osaka by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr IMGP0074a by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr IMGP3754a by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr

Review of: Super-Multi-Coated Takumar/Super-Takumar/Takumar 105mm F2.8 by Jonathan Mac on Thu January 25, 2018 | Rating: 8 View more reviews 

Views: 246146
Reviews: 39
I bought this lens to cover the short telephoto gap in my M42-mount lenses (between 55mm and 135mm) but I haven't used it that much (as I use M42 gear in general much less than I use bayonet-mount gear). Of all my lenses this is probably the most pleasurable to use - the focus and aperture rings are butter-smooth. Build quality is superb. On film I've found no problems in sharpness even wide open, but film is far more forgiving in this regard than digital is. On digital I've found it quite soft wide open and doesn't get really sharp until f/5.6. Even so, the wonderful rendering of this lens makes up for a good part of what it lacks in sharpness. The bokeh is beautiful - far and away the best of all the lenses I've used. I've used it quite a bit with extension tubes to photograph flowers and given the bokeh and how well it does these photos, I really should give it more use for portraits. All-in-all I like this lens a lot and should use it more. As long as you're not looking for extreme sharpness wide open, this lens is wonderful, especially for those who appreciate using beautifully designed and built tools. Film: Yashica Electro AX, Fuji Acros, Summer 033a by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr Chinchon 028a by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr Digital, with extension tubes: IMGP1882a by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr IMGP2178a by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr IMGP7766a by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr IMGP2201a by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr Digital, no extension tubes: IMGP7751a by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr IMGP0430a Tak_105 by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr

Review of: SMC Pentax-DA 18-55mm F3.5-5.6 AL WR by Jonathan Mac on Wed November 22, 2017 | Rating: 9 View more reviews 

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Reviews: 98
The humble Pentax kit 18-55mm used to be known as the best of the 18-55mm kits when compared to those from Canon, Nikon, Sony etc but I don't know if that's still the case in 2017 as I've heard other brands have upped their game. Still, it provides a good starter option and the WR means it's useful to keep around even after you've progressed to optically superior lenses. Try getting a WR lens for this price from any of the other manufacturers. I previously owned the mark II (same optical performance) but upgraded to the WR version for my honeymoon in Cambodia and Vietnam and was very glad I did. I have likewise been glad on other rainy days, especially in Japan when for a couple of days of my trip there it rained non-stop all day long and I barely used any other lenses. The 18-55mm is decent enough, with it's biggest weakness being sharpness wide open, especially at 55mm. I reserve the kit lens almost exclusively for use when it's raining or there's risk of rain and almost always use it in Av or TAv mode at f/8, letting the camera adjust the shutter speed and the sensitivity as necessary. This gets me decently sharp shots albeit without the larger apertures, faster shutter speeds and lower ISOs I'm used to with other lenses. This is my only WR lens at this time and though I aim to get an 18-135 or 16-85 some day, the 18-55 will do in the meantime. Build quality is very good for the price. Despite being much lighter, it feels more durable than my Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8. All-in-all I'm satisfied with the IQ from the lens. Sharpness is decent at f/8, contrast is good and I find that I get especially good greens from it, though that may be due to the appearance of foliage on the overcast, rainy days that I use this lens. I don't use it often but I'm usually pleased with the results when I do, as I often forget that this lens is very capable within it's limitations. For what it costs, there's no doubt it's worth having and keeping around. Some sample shots. Wet leaves by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr IMGP9900a by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr IMGP8989a by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr 2017-11-10_05-45-13 by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr IMGP9907a by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr

Review of: SMC Pentax-A 50mm F1.7 by Jonathan Mac on Sat June 24, 2017 | Rating: 7 View more reviews 

Views: 539721
Reviews: 140
The A series 50mm f/1.7 is optically identical to it's predecessor in the M series, except perhaps the SMC coating, and performs very similarly. It produces images which may have a touch more contrast, giving them a more modern look. The Pentax f/1.7 and f/1.8 standard primes are superb optically and this one is no exception, producing images which may be use-able wide open (depending on circumstances) and are very sharp indeed by f/2.8. The problem with the A series is the very poor build quality. The plastic build of the barrel is not a problem per se, but the plastic build of the internals, especially the aperture ring, is a big problem. My copy had an aperture ring which was gritty and difficult to move and another copy I tried, while externally fine, had an aperture ring that simply wouldn't go below f/8. This is because the aperture ring is plastic inside and just gets worn out very easily. While images from this lens were very good, I sold it because I don't get any pleasure from using it. I stick to my other 50mm lenses which are K, M, Taks or third-party offerings with similar high quality build. It's worth noting that the f/1.4 version has similarly poor construction while others in the series, like the 28/2.8 or 50/2.8 macro, are considerably better and have properly constructed aperture rings. I would recommend the K or M series fast fifties over this one, especially the M, which is the same size, almost as light, just as sharp, and much more pleasurable to use due to the superior build quality. It's also less than half the price. If you get one which works and plan to always use it in the A setting then you won't experience the aperture ring problems. Sample photo (taken wide open in low light): IMGP1325a by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr At f/2.0 IMGP1386 by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr Wide open: IMGP2763a A50_1.7 by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr 100% crop of above: IMGP2763a A50_1.7 100pc by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr

Review of: SMC Pentax-A 50mm F2.8 Macro by Jonathan Mac on Wed February 15, 2017 | Rating: 9 View more reviews 

Views: 170533
Reviews: 37
I bought this lens for a great price and in mint condition. They usually sell for much more than I paid. It's small and light but well built, I'd say to the same standard as the DA limited series. It's not nearly as solid as Takumars or K or M series lenses but it is significantly better in this regard than the A 50mm f/1.7 or f/1.4. Focusing is very smooth and the aperture ring clicks nicely making it very pleasurable to use. Image quality is excellent. It's fairly sharp wide open, with a tiny bit of glow (visible only when pixel-peeping) but still very usable, and extremely sharp by f/4. Colour and contrast are fantastic, yielding a look comparable to modern digital-age lenses. Though I've used it mostly for it's close-focus abilities, it also makes a superb landscape lens. The bokeh can be harsh in some circumstances but that's hardly unusual for any lens. In most cases it's fairly smooth, especially when focusing close. I have used this on film as well as digital but have not yet scanned any of the negatives so here are some examples from my K3 and Fujifilm X-M1. The first shot was taken wide open. IMGP6341a by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr IMGP6453 by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr IMGP6368a by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr DSCF1181 by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr IMGP6340a by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr 2018-03-28_08-25-31 by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr IMG_7251a by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr Yellow on yellow by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr IMG7282a by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr

Review of: SMC Pentax-M 50mm F1.4 by Jonathan Mac on Mon September 26, 2016 | Rating: 9 View more reviews 

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Reviews: 111
This lens is my go-to 50/1.4 due to it's build quality, compactness and optics. I use it on digital and also on film, where I find the feel of this lens is really ideal with a 35mm SLR. I have owned the M, K and (seven element) SMC Tak 50/1.4s and they all perform very similarly. In terms of sharpness they are all soft wide open (not really usable in my opinion), acceptable by f/2.0 or f/2.4 and great at f/2.8 and beyond. In other optical qualities, colour and contrast from the M 50mm are really good, though contrast is unsurprisingly lacking at f/1.4 and maybe f/2. Bokeh is generally smooth and I've never had any problems with flare. I find this lens gives a rendering very similar to much more modern lenses rather than the less contrasty, less saturated "vintage" look that many old lenses give. Build quality is great as with all the M series lenses and handling is superb - this lens is a pleasure to use. Focus is very smooth and the aperture ring clicks nicely. Recently I've acquired an Auto Revuenon 50mm f/1.4 and discovered that it's optically slightly better than the M series lens, being slightly sharper wide open. It's just as compact and well built, has the same 49mm filter ring, it was also half the price. That lens could conceivably one day push me to sell the M series one, or at least to replace it as my go-to 50/1.4. As all Pentax 50mm f/1.4 lenses are soft wide open, in terms of sharpness it's really impossible to justify having one instead of (or in addition to) a 50/1.7, which is smaller, lighter, just as well built, much cheaper, just as sharp at f/2.8 and considerably sharper wide open. The f/1.4 has eight aperture rings rather than six, so bokeh is smoother, but beyond that there really isn't much difference optically. In the end, if you really want an f/1.4 lens (as many people, myself included, do) then nothing else will do, but the sheer speed adds a lot of weight and cost without adding anything optically. The only real advantage in the optics are the extra aperture leaves for smoother bokeh. I find with all the 50mm lenses that I very rarely use them at less than f/2.8, where the combination of sharpness and ability to isolate a subject are ideal. I'm not about to get rid of my copy of this as it's very good optically, though recently the Auto Revuenon has been getting more use, but it's mainly because I'm far too much of a gear freak to not have at least one really good f/1.4 lens. Overall, this is a really nice lens and I rate it highly, though it's not good value for the reasons stated above. Some sample images on digital. Wide open at f/1.4: DSCF0100a by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr At f/2.8: IMGP3919a by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr IMGP3916a by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr Unknown aperture: IMGP1275a by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr IMGP9181a by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr

Review of: SMC Pentax-A 645 150mm F3.5 by Jonathan Mac on Wed September 7, 2016 | Rating: 8 View more reviews 

Views: 53657
Reviews: 9
I must admit to having used this lens much less than my other two 645 lenses (55mm & 75mm). It seems on medium format I'm not much of a telephoto shooter. This lens is solidly built like the other A series 645 lenses. It handles well and works smoothly. It's hard to identify shots taken with this lens because film has no EXIF data but from the shots I have looked at I can say that this lens is competent - decent contrast and sharpness and good bokeh. However, photos taken with it seem to lack the medium format magic that I see in many images taken with the other lenses. They look like sharper, smoother-toned 35mm shots. I bought this lens for portraits but have found that the 645 with this lens attached are far too big to pint at people without them noticing so I it's not really fit for that purpose. I will endeavour to get out and use it more so that I can get a more accurate feel for it and what it's capable of but it's a solid perfomer if nothing else. Here are a few sample photos. Pentax 645 Rollei RPX 100 009a by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr Untitled by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr Pentax 645 Acros 2015 008a by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr

Review of: SMC Pentax-A 645 75mm F2.8 by Jonathan Mac on Wed August 24, 2016 | Rating: 9 View more reviews 

Views: 73694
Reviews: 16
I bought this lens to replace the FA version I had previously, as I had no need for AF (my camera doesn't have it) and the A lens is much sturdier. The FA lens has quite a flimsy build and the A feels significantly better, though not as solid as the M series 135 format lenses. The A version is better for manual focusing as the ring is more damped. I have also reviewed the FA version ( and the A version is optically exactly the same, barring some possible (but un-noticeable changes to the SMC formula) - very sharp, great contrast. Bokeh could be smoother but is highly variable depending on the conditions and the specifics of the photo. If you value good build quality over AF then this is a better option, it's also a lot cheaper. I wish there were a faster 645-mount standard prime but Pentax has always limited it's 645 options to f/2.8 maximum, which is a shame - I'd like to be able to use the lens in lower light and to get shallower depth of field. Having said that, within it's limitations, I use this lens for around 85% of my 645 photos. I also use the A 55mm f/2.8 for wider shots and very occasionally the 150mm f/3.5. Together they make a good three-lens kit but the 75mm is byfar the most useful. One day I must really get a 645 to K adapter to be able to try this out on digital and 135 film, where it ought to make a good portrait-length lens. Overall, I would highly recommend this lens for use on 645 film, though bear in mind that for 645 standard primes the options are extremely limited - I believe there are some 80mm f/2 lenses by other manufacturers which can be adapted to Pentax 645 but they are more expensive and will be harder to use due to the non-native mount. The 645 standard zooms are huge, very heavy and a 1.5 stops slower than the prime. Here are some sample photos: Pentax 645 Acros 2015 014a by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr Pentax 645 Acros 2015 015a by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr P645, 400H 017a by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr Paris P645 400H 005a by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr Paris P645 Reala 004a by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr Paris P645 400H 013a by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr Paris P645 160NS 019a by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr

Review of: SMC Pentax-DA 40mm F2.8 Limited by Jonathan Mac on Sun August 14, 2016 | Rating: 9 View more reviews 

Views: 552731
Reviews: 148
Unlike most people, who buy the 40mm as their first limited lens, I bought it as my last in order to complete the set. That's probably because I bought the 35mm first, and when you have the 35mm (the best of the DA limited lenses) there's not much reason to buy the 40mm. The 40mm lens is sharp wide open (but not quite as sharp as the 35mm), with amazing contrast and colours, typical of the DA limiteds. It's very small but handles nicely - I've used it quite a lot on my Fujifilm X-M1 on which it's manual focus only and didn't have any problem despite the very small size. Manual focus is smooth and precise. Autofocus is quick. I used it as my main walk-around lens on a trip to Paris (I bought the lens on that trip) and was very happy with image quality on the Fuji camera. I recently took it on holiday to Norway and Sweden and used it on the K3 and was again very happy. The focal length is a useful one for general use. I believe that focal lengths of lenses are what you make of them and this one takes very little getting used to, though those that prefer wide angle may not like it. Overall, I'd recommend the 35mm over this one for it's focal length, macro capability and overall image quality, though the 40mm beats it in size, which makes it very useful for travel. Image quality is very nearly as good as that from the 35mm though, it's really only wide open where I notice the 40mm is not quite as sharp. If small size is more important to you than the other aspects then the 40mm is a good choice. The 35mm is also considerably more expensive. I have only used this on digital so far but I plan to try it on film when I get a chance. Update: my lens developed a fault suddenly in which the focus ring would not turn and I had to pay €50 to get it fixed. I'm not aware that this is a common problem with this lens but perhaps something to bear in mind. €50 is not an expensive fix for a modern lens. A few sample images. Stockholm by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr Paris coffee by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr IMGP2353a by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr IMGP2795a by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr Stavanger by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr IMGP0995a by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr Booksellers on the Seine by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr ITLY4393a by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr

Review of: SMC Pentax-DA 15mm F4 ED AL Limited by Jonathan Mac on Wed June 22, 2016 | Rating: 8 View more reviews 

Views: 394112
Reviews: 104
Edit: I see a lot of people commenting on this so I thought I'd add it here, at the top and in caps: DO NOT BUY THIS LENS WITHOUT CHECKING IT FOR DE-CENTRING! A lot of people rave about this lens but, while it is a good lens and useful to have, I don't believe it to be as good as many people say. It has the typical great DA limited build quality, handling and overall feel. Autofocus is fast and accurate on the K3. The wide angle of view is useful but not hugely so over my next widest lens, the Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8, which is almost as wide and is sharper than the DA 15mm. Optically this lens is a bit of a mixed bag. The contrast is a bit low regardless of the aperture - all the other DA limiteds are better in this regard. The corners are always soft to some degree - wide open only the centre of the image is sharp and the corners sharpen up progressively to f/11 but never reach a level where they're really sharp. The corners are also prone to chromatic aberrations, even stopped down. One thing to be careful of in this lens is de-centring. Many people complain that one side of the image is softer than the other and this is due to de-centring and sub-standard quality control. Make sure you fully test a copy of this lens before buying. Also be aware that a lens this wide is not for everybody. The focal length makes this lens a specialist one and not for general use as a general wide angle, it's too wide for that. It takes some time to get the knack of using it to take shots that don't look like they would have been better at a slightly longer focal length. Having said all that, image quality overall is good and a lens this wide is not going to be shot very often at less than f/8. I'm happy I bought it but for small, wide primes I find the DA 21mm much more useful and unless you really need a super-wide I'd recommend that lens over the 15mm as a wide prime. Sample images: Barcelona by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr IMGP6041a by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr Crossing the Manzanares by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr IMGP5729a by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr Hakone by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr Playa de las catedrales, Galicia by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr Goodnight, Stockholm by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr Pulpit rock (B&W version) by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr

Review of: SMC/S-M-C/Super Takumar 50mm F1.4 by Jonathan Mac on Mon February 29, 2016 | Rating: 7 View more reviews 

Views: 868145
Reviews: 109
This review is for the Super-Multi-Coated version (seven elements). The Takumar 50/1.4 is a very solidly-built lens which feels great in use. It's dreamy wide open and is useable in some circumstances by f/2 and is nice and sharp by f/2.8. Bokeh is OK stopped down a little and often quite nasty wide open or at f/2. This lens gets a lot of praise from the Takumar purists but when push comes to shove there are superior 50mm lenses out there for the same or less money. In the Takumar line, the 55mm f/1.8 or f/2 is superior in every way except pure speed - sharper, better colours, better contrast, lighter but still superb build quality - unless you want to shoot at f/1.4 (and get soft results) there's just no reason at all to have the faster lens. The M and K 50/1.4s and the Auto Revuenon (made by Chinon I think) in K mount are all optically superior and just as well-built despite being lighter. The Takumar is a nice enough lens and a real pleasure to use because of it's build quality and smooth focus and aperture ring, but almost every other 50 or 55mm lens I've tried has been superior. It certainly doesn't deserve either the reputation or price it has. If you want a 50 or 55mm Takumar then go with the 55/1.8 or /2. If you want a 50/1.4 then go with the M, K or Auto Revuenon or look for other alternatives. I sold mine after a couple of years and don't regret doing so. A few of photos taken with this lens. These photos may contrast with what I've said above - the 50/1.4 is capable of giving great results but so are other similar lenses, and many of the alternatives will yield more keepers. IMGP8868a by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr IMGP6410a Tak 50 by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr IMGP1271a Tak 50_1.4 by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr

Review of: SMC Pentax-M 135mm F3.5 by Jonathan Mac on Thu February 18, 2016 | Rating: 8 View more reviews 

Views: 424205
Reviews: 111
I overpaid massively for this lens but if you know what you're doing and pay a normal price this lens is good value. Typical M series great build quality and handling, beautiful smooth focusing. The little slide-out hood is handy. It's soft wide open but stop down a little and it's very good. Colour and contrast are very nice too. It's better than the much more modern DA 50-200 or 55-300 zooms. Not a focal length I use very often but worth having. I took mine on various trips in place of either of the cheap slow zooms mentioned above and it did very well, with the added bonus that I could use it on the film SLRs I took. I've now replaced this with the M 120mm f/2.8 which is a better lens all-round: faster, still a little soft wide open but very good by f/4, while the 135mm needs stopped down more to get really good sharpness. Some sample images: Norway by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr Pulpit rock HDR panorama 2c M 135mm by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr IMGP1576a by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr IMGP2425_1 by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr

Review of: SMC Pentax-M 28mm F3.5 by Jonathan Mac on Mon October 19, 2015 | Rating: 8 View more reviews 

Views: 230830
Reviews: 53
This lens is very good, especially if simple sharpness is what is required. Build quality is typically superb for the M series. It's extremely sharp even wide open. Colour and contrast are very good but not excellent. If you're into more normal focal lengths for landscape photography or you simply want a lens which is compact & very sharp wide open, then this is ideal. On a DSLR this means you can use it in A mode and not worry that your photos won't be sharp because you didn't stop down. I have compared this lens to various other similar models.
  • Compared to M 28/2.8 (mark I). The f/3.5 version is sharper with much better colour and contrast
  • Compared to M 28/2.8 (mark II - optically identical to the A series lens). The f/3.5 is still sharper but no longer wins in colour and contrast - the f/2.8 is superior in these regards. I think the f/2.8 has more distortion though.
  • Compared to K 28/3.5. The K version is optically superior. It's just as sharp and has better colour and contrast and is capable of giving a 3D quality to photos, which the M version isn't. However, the K is much bigger and heavier.
In the end I sold this lens and kept the K version for sheer IQ and got an A 28mm f/2.8 for a smaller/lighter/faster version. I found that the images from the K version didn't need to be post-processed to give them some life and vibrancy in the same way as those from the M version. If you want a single lens though that's light, small and sharp wide open then the f/3.5 version is the best compromise available in the old manual 28mm lenses. Edit: I got a second copy for a bargain price and it didn't focus to infinity, so be careful as this may be a common problem. Some samples: DSCF1086a by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr DSCF1080a M 28mm 3.5 by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr

Review of: SMC Pentax-M 35mm F2.8 by Jonathan Mac on Sat October 3, 2015 | Rating: 9 View more reviews 

Views: 156380
Reviews: 26
I bought this lens because I wanted a smaller, cheaper version of the f/2 which I already have. I snapped it up when I saw one for a good price as they're quite rare (28mm lenses were far more common). It's not fabulously sharp wide open but it's very good, and extremely sharp by f4.5. There is some noticeable chromatic aberration wide open in out-of-focus areas. Despite it's slight IQ faults, I really like the lens - the handling somehow seems even better than usual for an M series, making it a pleasure to use. Bokeh is far smoother than is normal for a lens of this age. Colour and contrast are good and images have a vibrancy that I love. This lens shouldn't be seen as the poor, slower cousin of the f/2 version but a lens that's a pleasure to own and use in it's own right. It's certainly superior to any of the much more common M series 28mm lenses (with the possible exception of the f/2, which I haven't used). I'm very happy with this little lens, it has quickly become a favourite on my K3 and also on my Fuji X-M1. A few samples: Fountain by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr Autumn by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr IMGP5833a by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr IMGP5792a by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr

Review of: SMC Pentax-DA 50-200mm F4-5.6 ED WR by Jonathan Mac on Sat October 3, 2015 | Rating: 6 View more reviews 

Views: 208770
Reviews: 36
I bought this to use when travelling as the 55-300mm is just too big and heavy. I also wanted a longer weather resistant lens. This lens is small and light and easy to handle. It vignettes quite strongly when used on a 35mm film camera (more so than the 55-300mm). The problem with this lens is that it's just not very sharp. Stopping down to f/8 (or better yet, f/11) helps but not to a huge degree and at these focal lengths and apertures it often becomes necessary to boost ISO in order to get adequate shutter speeds. At normal viewing sizes the images are OK but zoom in a little and it soon becomes clear that this is not the best lens around. The sharpest images are from around 135mm. I ended up deleting quite a few images because they were just not satisfactorily sharp. Having stated all that, in good light this lens is capable of producing images with good colour and contrast. It's small size, light weight and weather resistance make it a good travel lens when good light is expected, as long as you're not going to crop heavily or print large. A few sample photos. Mount Rainier by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr Heron by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr Sea lions sleeping in the sun by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr

Review of: SMC Pentax-M 35mm F2 by Jonathan Mac on Mon December 15, 2014 | Rating: 9 View more reviews 

Views: 155761
Reviews: 20
This is a great little lens which I've used mostly on digital (K200D and then K-3) but I also use it on my Pentax film SLRs. It's very, very slightly soft wide open and can show a little "glow", but it's very useable. This is more noticeable on the K-3 than on the K200D due to the extra resolution of the sensor. By f/2.8 it's very sharp indeed. The contrast and colour are superb and allow the lens to provide some fantastic, saturated, lifelike photos. I have never experienced any problems with flare. It has the typical "M" series build quality and handling. This is really the only lens I have which is capable of replacing the DA 35/2.8 ltd as a standard prime on digital. It's also very useful on film, and is converting me to the advantages of a fast 35mm lens over a fast 50mm lens on that format. This lens has become my main lens to take on holidays within Spain where we're more relaxed and in less of a hurry to see sights compared to when we go abroad. If you want a manual standard prime for a Pentax DSLR then this is probably the best there is. There's a "K" series version but it's extremely rare. Some sample shots. The first two were taken wide open. IMGP8203a by Jonathan_in_Madrid, on Flickr IMGP8217a by Jonathan_in_Madrid, on Flickr IMGP8735a by Jonathan_in_Madrid, on Flickr IMGP8495a by Jonathan_in_Madrid, on Flickr IMGP9215a by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr Early morning by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr Early sun by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr IMGP5117a by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr A size comparison with the slower f/2.8 M lens: IMGP5666a by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr

Review of: SMC Pentax-M 75-150mm F4 by Jonathan Mac on Thu November 6, 2014 | Rating: 9 View more reviews 

Views: 185866
Reviews: 56
This is the only old manual zoom lens that I have tried that I really like, and I like it more than many of the primes I have (and I'm very much a prime guy). The image quality is amazing, it's incredibly sharp wide open, colours and contrast are fantastic too. This is one of the very few lenses I've tried which has made me go "wow" when I saw the images afterwards. Honestly, it's like the M 85mm f/2 or the DA 35mm Limited, it's that good. It's a little heavy because it's well built and the zoom can creep a bit. It's at 150mm when the focus/zoom ring is pulled back towards the camera, though the focus/zoom ring slides along the barrel without lengthening it during zoom. That's good because it should mean less suction to pull in dust. Being 150mm close to the camera body also means that it's more stable to hold at longer focal lengths, just where you need more stability. Excellent design. I've used this a bit on film cameras but it really excels on digital because it easily meets the higher demands of current digital sensors when compared to film. Some sample pics (all wide open, except possibly the last one): IMGP0225a by Jonathan_in_Madrid, on Flickr IMGP0205a by Jonathan_in_Madrid, on Flickr IMGP0201a by Jonathan_in_Madrid, on Flickr IMGP3272a by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr IMGP3266a by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr IMGP0171a by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr

Review of: SMC Pentax-A 645 55mm F2.8 by Jonathan Mac on Wed September 3, 2014 | Rating: 9 View more reviews 

Views: 63140
Reviews: 11
I chose the 55mm lens over the 45mm as it's a more suitable focal length for general use - aprox. 35mm equivalent rather than aprox. 28mm. The lens is quite big and heavy but handles very well and, as far as I can tell from my Epson V500 scans, is very sharp wide open. That's important for me on medium format as I like the shallow depth of field that's possible with medium format and f/2.8 in terms of exposure is not that fast. I don't see any distortion and bokeh seems smooth as far as I can tell. The build quality is very good though the focusing ring on my copy is a little loose, but not enough to make it fiddly to use. A few example photos. Pro 160NS, P645 003a by Jonathan_in_Madrid, on Flickr Pro 160NS, P645 004a by Jonathan_in_Madrid, on Flickr T-Max 100 P645 2014 012a by Jonathan_in_Madrid, on Flickr

Review of: SMC Pentax-DA 70mm F2.4 Limited by Jonathan Mac on Mon February 17, 2014 | Rating: 9 View more reviews 

Views: 401706
Reviews: 100
This is a really great lens. It's small, light, pretty fast and with great IQ. Build quality is great, typical DA limited. Sharpness wide open is fantastic and it only gets better stopping down. The maximum aperture and focal length can give nice shallow depth of field. Colour and contrast are excellent, as is resistance to flare. Don't be fooled into thinking this is just a portrait lens just because of the focal length - it excels as a landscape lens too. I haven't compared this to the FA 77mm. If I had the money I'd buy it and compare, then decide. The minimum focus distance could be shorter, though it's not often a problem. All, in all, I'm very happy with this lens. Together with the 35 and 21 I have a very useful three-lens kit for digital, in a small size and with very high IQ. IMGP5005a por Jonathan_in_Madrid, en Flickr IMGP4965a por Jonathan_in_Madrid, en Flickr IMGP4934a por Jonathan_in_Madrid, en Flickr Wild deer by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr IMGP5264 by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr IMGP0169a DA70_ltd by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr IMGP9612a by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr Reyes 2016, Segovia by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr IMGP0393a by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr

Review of: SMC Pentax-DA 21mm F3.2 Limited by Jonathan Mac on Mon February 17, 2014 | Rating: 8 View more reviews 

Views: 365364
Reviews: 94
This lens is very nice. It's small and light, AF is fast and overall IQ is good. It's nice to finally have a small, wide prime for use on digital, so I don't have to use a zoom for wide-angle. This lens is good as a walk-about wide lens and for indoor use for groups. It's wide but not too wide. It's a very useful focal length in a small package. Colour and contrast are very good. It's perfect for night shots, the stars from lights render extremely well. The first problem with the image quality are that it's not that sharp wide open (though perfectly useable). It's nice and sharp by f/4.5. Secondly, it has barrel distortion that is noticeable in many shots, something which is hard to understand considering the lens isn't really that wide, though this is easy to fix in post. Thirdly, and most importantly, when the sun is in the frame this lens can produce large and extremely ugly green blobs of lens flare. The hood is not the ideal size/shape to block this even when the sun is slightly outside of the frame. I've seen stunningly beautiful, sunny landscapes and come away without a single useable wide photo due to the green blobs. It's a blight on what should be a very good lens for landscapes and both points I've taken off the score are for this problem. Aside from that, the only down-side to this lens is that for the price it really should be at least f/2.8. It's barely faster than the kit lens at that focal length. As I've said, this lens is useful in many situations, so I wouldn't get rid of it, but if Pentax could make one without the green blob problem (and if it were f/2.8 too), I'd certainly swap. [ British Musuem stitch (sml) by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr IMGP5518a por Jonathan_in_Madrid, en Flickr IMGP9444a por Jonathan_in_Madrid, en Flickr IMGP6491a DA 21mm by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr IMGP5387a by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr IMGP9921b 21ltd by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr Stride by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr IMGP7458a by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr Garden panorama by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr

Review of: SMC Pentax-DA 35mm F2.8 Limited Macro by Jonathan Mac on Mon February 17, 2014 | Rating: 10 View more reviews 

Views: 473593
Reviews: 122
This is the only lens I've rated at 10/10. It's that good. The IQ, even wide open, is nothing short of spectacular. I can't state this strongly enough. I have a DAL 35mm f/2.4 which everyone raves about, but it can't compare to the limited. I also have a Sigma 30mm f/1.4 (update: now sold), which is nice, but still not up the standard of the limited. The 35mm limited can produce images with a magic, realistic quality that few lenses can. It's not just due to sharpness - the contrast, micro-contrast, saturation and bokeh are all fantastic. Aside from the IQ, the build quality is great, it has quick-shift, it has a built-in hood and it's nice and small. The macro feature is extremely useful, and at the 35mm focal length it is suitable for images that aren't the typical ones taken at 90-105mm. I strongly disagree with the idea that portraits should be soft, and this lens is the best portrait lens I have. A big advantage of a macro lens at a normal focal length is that no matter where you are there is always something you can photograph. The negatives are that the AF can hunt (update: this was the case with my K200D, much less so with the K3), and that for a standard prime it's not that fast. In practice, these are very minor issues and you'll virtually forget them once you see the image quality. A faster lens would be bigger and heavier (like the Sigma 30mm) and much more expensive. An important thing to note is that the focus is very sensitive. A lot of reviews state that this lens is soft at infinity, but that's not true. The AF needs to be fine-tuned on the camera so that infinity really is infinity. Those who say it's soft have not fine-tuned focus and are in fact focusing slightly off infinity, hence the softness. The lens is extremely sharp, even wide open, at any focus distance. This is the best lens I have and the last one I'd ever sell. Yes, it costs more than the DAL 35/2.4, but the difference in IQ and presence of other features make the limited lens the better value of the two. Update: I also now have the HD FA 35mm f/2 which is also a very good lens. It has the advantage of being faster and non-macro (so less hunting) but I still like the Limited more overall. IMGP7016a por Jonathan_in_Madrid, en Flickr IMGP4261a por Jonathan_in_Madrid, en Flickr IMGP4568a por Jonathan_in_Madrid, en Flickr Ladybird by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr Raquel by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr IMGP9706a by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr Madrid twilight by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr Tokyo origami by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr Tokyo by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr Kyoto by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr

Review of: SMC Pentax-FA 645 75mm F2.8 by Jonathan Mac on Tue April 16, 2013 | Rating: 9 View more reviews 

Views: 80183
Reviews: 13
When it comes to standard lenses for a 645 system, there are very few options. I believe there is a Zeiss 75/2.8 out there somewhere that can be used on a P645. I've used this lens only on a Pentax 645 camera. I may in the future buy an adapter to be able to use it on my DSLR and 35mm film SLRs, but it seems a little pointless to use such a large lens on these smaller formats. As far as DoF is concerned, it is the equivalent of a 50mm f/1.8 lens, but performs better wide open than any 50/1.8. The lens is nice to use, focusing is very smooth and the aperture clicks nicely. The lens is a flimsy compared to the A version though, in common with 35mm lenses. I have replaced it with the A version as my camera doesn't have AF anyway, and it's sturdier and every bit as pleasant to use. I should state that my assessment of this lens is limited by the resolving abilities of my Epson V500 film scanner, which is far from being the sharpest scanner around. Still, for my uses it is usually sufficient (at least for medium format). Bearing in mind this limitation, the lens seems sharp, and I often use it wide open without hesitation, to get the shallow DoF I like. Colour and contrast are very good indeed. Aside from the build quality, the only downside to this lens is that the bokeh is often not very smooth. I have been very happy indeed with the results so far from my 645 system, though the weak point (apart from the photographer) is clearly the scanner. This lens, though now replaced with the A version which I expect to work equally well, has been used 95% of the time and has given me some shots that I really love. I have added some below. If I do get an adapter to try this lens on digital and 35mm, I will update the review. Sample images: Fuentesauco 003a by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr Fuentesauco 001a by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr Bilbao Portra 400 645 001a by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr Fuji 160NS 645 025a by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr Fuji 160NS 645 027a by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr Portra 160 645 006a by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr

Review of: SMC Pentax-DA 35mm F2.4 AL by Jonathan Mac on Wed November 21, 2012 | Rating: 8 View more reviews 

Views: 732295
Reviews: 157
Review revised 09/07/2019. Update 06/11/2020 - I've sold this lens after acquiring the HD 35mm f/2, which is better than the DAL in every aspect and performs better at f/2.2 than this one does at f/2.4. It's also compatible with film cameras. This lens is small and light, which is handy in many situations. It's nice and sharp stopped down a little, wide open it's acceptable. It's an excellent first prime for kit-lens users, exactly what it appears to be designed to be. The build quality is not great, but miles ahead of the cheap Canon 50/1.8 mark II for example. The IQ is good for the price and compares favourably with a constant f/2.8 zoom such as the Tamron or Sigma 17-50mm f/2.8, and it's much smaller and lighter of course. I've gotten good results from it, especially in circumstances where the DA 35mm limited is not ideal, such as in poor light. The DAL 35mm focuses much faster and does let in a little more light. When compared to the DA 35mm limited though, this lens shows more weaknesses than strengths. My tests show it to let in only 25% more light than the DA 35 ltd, a quarter stop which should be a half stop. The limited lens is the same size, is sharper, has better contrast, has a hood, quick-shift, a metal mount, MUCH better build quality, 1:1 macro and better rendering. This lens should really have an f/2 maximum aperture and a metal mount for the price, and to compete with similar lenses for other systems. I would recommend this as a first prime (though the M 50mm f/1.7 might be a better choice) or for use when small size and light weight are paramount (this is why I've kept it). Overall, there are better-performing alternatives that will provide a more satisfactory photographic experience. The good value cannot be ignored though and if you can get it for a good price then it's worthwhile to have. There are a lot of mentions of front or back focusing, so make sure you check when buying or buy from somewhere that will give you a refund or exchange if needed. On my K200D this lens didn't focus properly and it was relegated to use on film SLRs that can handle a lens with no aperture ring, and didn't get much use there either. On the K-3 I've found that it focuses much better and the IQ is better than I'd originally thought, so it gets more use these days. However, I now have a Fujifilm camera with 35mm f/1.4 lens and that's much more compact than the K-3 and DAL 35/2.4 and with much better image quality, overall a much more flexible package. It seems there is almost always something better to use than this lens. Some samples: Green by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr Bilbao by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr IMGP1067a by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr IMGP1064a by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr IMGP1072a by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr

Review of: S-M-C/Super/Auto Takumar 35mm F3.5 by Jonathan Mac on Wed November 21, 2012 | Rating: 9 View more reviews 

Views: 364267
Reviews: 73
This review is for the Super-Multi-Coated version. Obviously this is an M42 lens, so it's fully manual and will take some getting used to. Not only is it M42, but it is so small that it does not meet the electrical contacts on a DSLR. What does this matter? If an M42 lens meets the contacts then it can be used more easily in A mode, as the camera will meter correctly. If there's nothing on the contacts then A mode will underexpose by 2 stops or more, and you'll be better off just using M mode. Speaking of size, this lens is absolutely tiny, but the handling remains good. In my experience of old Pentax f/3.5 lenses (this one plus M & K 28s), they are all extremely sharp wide open, with no colour aberrations visible at all, which is wonderful. Stop down for exposure or for increased depth of field as required, but there's no need to stop down for increased sharpness. Colour and contrast are good. I also own the DA 35mm ltd, and while the Tak does not have the magical IQ that the ltd has, it sometimes comes very, very close, and is certainly at least as sharp. Obviously this is not a very fast lens. The problem with this for me is not in low-light or shallow DoF shooting, but in that it provides less light in the viewfinder. It's definitely a good-weather lens. Overall, this lens provides extremely good IQ within it's limitations and provides a very enjoyable manual shooting experience due to it's superb handling and build quality. A few examples: IMGP8925a by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr IMGP6453a Tak 35 3 by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr Madrid by night by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr

Review of: SMC Pentax-M 28mm F2.8 by Jonathan Mac on Sat December 10, 2011 | Rating: 5 View more reviews 

Views: 461654
Reviews: 93
I had this lens for around a year & a half but it didn't see much use after a few trips out in which it very much failed to produce the goods. It does everything reasonably well in that it's sharp enough, the distortion isn't bad, it's contrasty enough etc etc. But is that good enough to make good photos? No, it's not. The whole is somehow less than the sum of it's parts. This lens left every scene appearing dull and lifeless, something akin to the exact opposite of the "3D effect" that some lenses have (such as the superb M85mm f/2). I have replaced it with an M28mm f/3.5, which has no distortion, far better contrast & is incredibly sharp, and occasionally gives a 3D effect (but I need to learn to use it to bring this out more). I've just obtained a K version of that which may be even better still. I also have a Vivitar 28mm f/2.0 lens, which lacks the vibrant colours of typical Pentax M lenses but is still better than the M 28mm f/2.8. My advice - don't bother with this lens unless you get it really cheap, even then you may be left looking for a lens that gives you more, and end up ditching this one like I did. I've recommended it, but with the price caveat.

Review of: SMC Pentax-M 50mm F1.7 by Jonathan Mac on Mon December 6, 2010 | Rating: 9 View more reviews 

Views: 879762
Reviews: 243
Please note that this review is based on use on the K200D with a Katzeye split-prism focusing screen installed. With the standard screen this lens will be considerably harder to focus properly when close to maximum aperture. When I first got it as my first piece of old Pentax glass, I had virtually no shots in focus (partly because I thought it was stopped down when it wasn´t, partly lack of MF practice and mainly because I didn´t have a split-prism focusing screen installed yet). Things have improved since then. I´ve just written a review of the K55/1.8 lens in which it is largely compared to this one, and the M50 comes off worse. Now that I think about it that seems a little unfair and is mainly based on the K lens being the sharper of the two wide open, but that´s not to say that the M50´s merits are few. In fact, in general optical characteristics there´s very, very little between the two. I prefer the larger size of the K, but the smaller & lighter M is usually chosen for travelling. Indeed, the tiny nature of this lens makes it very convenient for tucking into small spaces in a camera bag where nothing else would fit. The K is slightly longer which makes it better for face-only portraits. But with the crop factor of APS-C, the 50mm is more versatile as a general low-light lens. So really it´s only the sharpness of the K that makes it “better”, everything else is a question of using the right lens for the right job. Despite the similarity in focal length & speed I won´t be selling either. The M50 is sharp enough wide open to be useable in low light, though for portraiture in good light the slight softness is more apparent. Like the K55, by F2.8 the lens is nice & sharp, and so that´s where I use it most often unless I need the extra speed. The colour & contrast are very good, though not up to the superb standard of the M85/2. Bokeh is always smooth (see examples below) and colour fringing virtually non-existent. The only optical problem I´ve seen from it was nasty (really nasty) green colour distortion once while trying to get a picture of a streetlight in the snow. I understand this might be due to the coatings of the lens. These lenses are not hard to find (unlike the K55) and are pretty cheap, and the performance to price ratio is nothing short of outstanding. Here are a few examples from last summer´s trip to Austria. Note that I´ve processed these for a “filmy” look, hence the colours. Note also that the majority of them were wide open or at F2. Edit 11/12/2011. A year on, I have upped my score for this lens from an 8 to a 9. It really is superb and I love it more and more. The M50 f/1.4 I got just after I originally reviewed this lens gets less use, even though it performs similarly. The IQ, colours, general look & the feel of using this lens all combine to add a magic to it. The A version performs just as well as the M, but lacks the magic due to the poorer build quality & the use of the control wheel (rather than the aperture ring) to change the aperture setting. Every Pentax user must own this lens, even if they already have other fast fifties.

Review of: SMC Pentax 55mm F1.8 by Jonathan Mac on Mon December 6, 2010 | Rating: 8 View more reviews 

Views: 290458
Reviews: 76
Please note that this review is based on use on the K200D with a Katzeye split-prism focusing screen installed. With the standard screen this lens is considerably harder to focus properly when close to maximum aperture. This lens was the second old normal prime that I got to use with my K200D, the first being an M 50mm 1:1.7. In truth, the M50 has seen more use, partly because I´ve had it longer and partly because there´s a small space in my Lowepro bag where the M50 will fit and the K55 won´t, so for travelling the M50 usually wins. The K55 is a comparatively big lens and is definitely bigger and more solid than the M50. K-series enthusiasts tend to love the superior build quality of these lenses, while M-series enthusiasts love the smaller size. This is a matter of preference, but rest assured that there is no lens in production today that can compare in build quality to the K55. The greater use of the M50 is something I´m working to change. Why? Three main reasons. The first is that 55mm on an APS-C camera is closer to the old 85mm lenses of old (82.5mm compared to the 75mm equivalent of the M50). The difference is small but it´s there, and for close quarters facial portraits (which I´m keen on) it gets me closer. The second, and more important reason, is that the K55 is sharper wide open. The light transmittal difference between F1.8 & F1.7 is negligible, so forget that “wide open” is not the same value for both lenses. While I would class the M50 as useable wide open (and I´ve used it wide open quite a lot), I would have less concern using the K55 wide open. By F2.8, both are very sharp and I see no difference. A third reason is that the K55 is more pleasant to focus. This is in part due to it´s larger size (but I have big hands so this may not apply to everyone) and part due to the smoothness of the focusing ring. This might be sample variance: I have a number of M lenses and no two feel exactly the same to focus. But the K55 focuses more smoothly than any of the Ms, and focusing smoothness is a large part of why I (& many others) love the old manual glass. As for other IQ factors, I´ve certainly no complaints. Colour and contrast are good and the lens always produces great results, when focused properly. I had some concerns about funky bokeh before I bought the lens (from examples I´ve seen), but I haven´t seen any examples in my use. I suspect this might just be for closer backgrounds based on the photos where I´ve seen it. I´ve yet to encounter a lens that I felt deserved a 10, but this one is very, very good. If I ever see the f2 version of this lens going cheap, I think I´ll get it for the increased wide-open sharpness which will make it easier to use in A mode.

Review of: SMC Pentax-M 85mm F2 by Jonathan Mac on Mon December 6, 2010 | Rating: 9 View more reviews 

Views: 234867
Reviews: 46
Please note that this review is based on use on the K200D with a Katzeye split-prism focusing screen installed. With the standard screen this lens will be considerably harder to focus properly when close to maximum aperture. This lens is the newest addition to my collection of old (mostly M-series) Pentax glass. I hadn´t planned on getting it but I had wanted a fast 85mm & I saw this one for a decent price (129 GBP), which makes it the most expensive manual lens I own. The build quality is very good, typical M series, and the focusing ring, which was a little stiff from lack of use when I got it, has loosened up to an almost perfect amount of resistance. The big front element, which barely fits within the 49mm filter thread, also makes it look very nice on the camera. Looking at reviews of Pentax 85mm lenses, this one seems to be the runt of the litter. It is often criticised for it´s lack of sharpness when compared to K-series, older Taks & also newer versions. Bear in mind that any Pentax 85mm lens produced after this model is a * lens, meaning that it will be of superb optical & build quality, and the price will reflect that. Many people rally to the defence of this lens, even claiming that it is sharp wide open. Just remember that sharpness can be subjective. Although I do not own others to compare myself, many others have done, and all seem to conclude that this lens is the slowest & least sharp Pentax 85mm. But in it´s defence, old Tak 85 1.9 or 1.8 lenses in the same condition sell for double, need an adaptor and are larger & heavier. I do not usually use this lens wide open (except for Brenizer method photos), although I´ve done some tests and I would do it if I had to to get the shutter speed or DoF necessary. Most of the time I use it at 2.8, where it is very good, and even at f4 at this focal length you can isolate a subject from it´s background. The other problem with this lens at F2 is the considerable blue fringing, which is apparent in almost every photo, even when contrast is not very high. Thankfully, 80% of this is gone by F2.8. However, as others have commented and many people will already know, speed & sharpness are not the only qualities in a lens, and it is often these mysterious other qualities that are why people love it. There is the “3D effect”, though this is claimed for a great many lenses. I believe this effect to be down to a combination of DoF, good contrast & good colour. This lens excels in all of these factors, and that´s why it´s such a good lens. The images from it are never flat or dull, even if they are of uninteresting subjects. Bokeh is very good and I´ve never seen any bad examples in my photos or others'. I have removed one point for the softness & colour fringing wide open, and for not having a aperture click between F2 & F2.8 (why do they do this???). If I ever come across a K85 for a reasonable price I will most likely get it, then assess the two & make a decision on which to keep, as these lenses in good condition have already lost any value they´re going to lose, and re-selling will not lose you anything. In summary, this lens has excellent image quality with a couple of caveats. If you want it for shallow depth of field to isolate a subject it's a good buy, if you want it to stop down for great telephoto landscapes or cityscapes then it's great too. On extension tubes it also performs exceedingly well in macro work. A few examples are below. 14/01/2016 - updated this review with newer (better) photos. I'll also add that on a K3 it isn't so hard to focus, even without a Katzeye, and on my little Fuji -M1 (like all old manual lenses) it works like a dream. 01/09/2020 - update to say that I recently compared this lens to the SMC DA 70mm f/2.4 Limited wide open as a favour to another forum member. The result was that there isn't a huge amount in it. The 70mm is sharper with less fringing but the 85mm holds it's own and wide open is sharper than I originally thought, but accurate focus is absolutely critical to getting that sharpness. The comparison shots can be found here: On film: Agfa 200, Edin April 2014, K1000 015a by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr NY Gold 400 023a by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr To take Brenizer method stitched panoramas with shallow depth of field: Brenizer 14th July 2015 by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr At f/4: Wet leaf by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr Unknown aperture but at minimum focus distance: IMGP6636a by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr At f/2.8: IMGP7275a by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr Unknown aperture: The Arch by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr Playa de las catedrales, Galicia by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr

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